• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Suffer from asthma? Learn the facts, triggers

January 3, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Every day, five out of every 100 people miss work or school because of asthma. And asthma cases are on the rise in this country. Understanding how asthma is triggered is key.What do a little traffic, an approaching storm and alcohol have in common? They can all take your breath away.

"I remember having an asthma attack after playing and actually had to go to the hospital because my rescue inhaler didn't work," said asthma sufferer Ian Rideaux.

Rideaux spends all day trying to stay on top of his asthma. Forty-thousand Americans feel that same pain each day.

"A lot of times if there's a change of weather, if it gets too cold or too hot, sometimes that triggers it," said Rideaux.

Now doctors say his daily routine may be making matters worse.

"Being near a highway with increased levels of diesel fumes or tire particles can actually exacerbate asthma," said allergy specialist Dr. Bernard Zeffren.

Zeffren says some asthma triggers have nothing to do with working out. Traffic, thunderstorms, alcohol, even aspirin can cause trouble.

"Things like barometric pressure changes, temperature changes, emotional stressors, sometimes, rarely, certain foods can also contribute," said Zeffren.

So what's your "asthma IQ?"

Can moving to a different climate can cure asthma? No it can't. A new setting improves symptoms only in the short run.

Can you inherit asthma? That's true. You've got a 30 percent chance of having asthma if one of your parents has it, and a 70 percent chance if both parents have it.

True or false: Will kids with asthma will outgrow it? False. In 50 percent of sufferers, asthma subsides as a teenager. Still, it can pop up again as an adult.

For Rideaux, the ABCs are clear, and a sigh of relief comes from arming himself with the facts.